Every so often, an indy comic comes along and grabs the attention of the entire industry. Sam Humphries, one of the brains behind MySpace Dark Horse Presents, did it once with the edgy Our Love Is Real, and now he’s doing it again with Sacrifice, his time-traveling Aztec adventure with artist Dalton Rose! The debut issue, out December 14, has already pre-sold out, a rarity for an independent comic, but you can still get the Obsidian Variant Edition of Sacrifice #1 exclusively at TFAW.com, if you act quickly.
We had the chance to pick Humphries’ brain about how where his inspiration comes from, how he made such a big splash with a self-published comic, and how he feels about the late, lamented MySpace Dark Horse Presents. Plus, we’ve got some teaser images for Sacrifice #1, below!
TFAW.com: Can you introduce us to Sacrifice?
Sam Humphries: Sacrifice is a time travel story about a guy named Hector who gets ripped out of the 21st century and thrown into the middle of the Aztec Empire. It’s a fantasy fish-out-of-water story with psychedelic fireworks and retro T-shirts.
TFAW.com: What does “Blood Will Tear Us Apart” mean?
SH: It’s a pun, kind of! It’s a tagline that mixes the blood of Aztec sacrifice with “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” a jaunty tune by post-punk mop tops Joy Division, a band that has special significance for Hector.
TFAW.com: Sacrifice delves into Aztec history–why did you choose that culture and time period?
SH: I’ve been obsessed with the Aztecs for almost a decade. They believed they were the chosen caretakers of the Earth, the cosmos, and reality itself, and they needed to keep it alive every day with human blood. That’s an insane amount of responsibility! Can you imagine living with that on your shoulders? So intense. What kind of mentalities would grow out of a culture like that?
That’s just one of the reasons I find the Aztecs fascinating. Sacrifice grew out of that fascination.
TFAW.com: So were you already pretty knowledgable about the Aztecs, or did you need to do a lot of research?
SH: I’ve done a ton of research over the years, just for my own enjoyment. I’ve got a shelf full of books and pages full of notes. When I formally began working on Sacrifice, I had a pretty good framework for understanding their civilization. There were plenty of specific things I needed to research for the book, but for a story this historical, I was lucky to have a solid head-start.
TFAW.com: What exactly is happening to Hector?
SH: To explain too much at this point would be to spoil the fun, ask me again in six months. He’s epileptic, he’s anxious to the point of paralysis, and he’s suddenly found himself 500 years in the past. Typical “slice of life” stuff.
TFAW.com: Do you have more stories planned after this six-issue miniseries?
SH: Sacrifice forms a loose trilogy of Aztec-centric stories I have planned in my head. Sacrifice takes place in the past, one takes place in the present, and the third takes place the future.
Is a trilogy of Aztec stories a practical plan? You gotta keep hope alive! But the answer is “probably not.”
TFAW.com: How did you choose Dalton Rose as your artist?
SH: Quetzalcoatl spoke to me. He told me to take a walkabout around Los Angeles until I found an eagle perched on a Vespa with a blunt in its mouth, which led me to the Archaia offices. There, the crew was generous enough to introduce me to Dalton’s work. Then they morphed into a pack of rainbow jaguars and flew into the night sky. That’s how the moon got its spots, and how I got a collaborator.
TFAW.com: How do his strengths benefit Sacrifice?
SH: In a fantasy story, you need an immersive environment that is both fantastic and believable. You need grounded, intense, emotional characters. And you need kick-ass action. This is Dalton’s first published work and he is absolutely crushing it. Everyone is going to be blown away when they see what he can do.
TFAW.com: You’ve had a very eclectic career as a writer thus far: Sacrifice is very different from Our Love Is Real, which was very different from Fraggle Rock. How do you envision your career continuing?
SH: Our Love Is Real vs. Fraggle Rock 12-issue maxi-series. It’s gonna be huge. Baxter paper, 24 variant covers, co-branded viral social media campaign, Travis Charest interiors, introduction by Judi Dench. The whole deal. We might even involve Henson in the process.
TFAW.com: There are a lot of self-published comics creators out there, but very few make the media and retail splash that you have, with both Our Love Is Real and Sacrifice. Do you have any tips for other creators?
SH: Yes. When embarking on an ambitious project, it is extremely valuable to define specific and articulate goals for yourself. And I mean very specific. In my experience, “I just want to write a comic,” or “I just want to get something out there,” are not nearly specific enough. Do some soul searching and figure out what it is you really want. You won’t regret it.
If you focus on your goals, apply smart strategies to get there, and work your ass off, amazing things can happen.
TFAW.com: You were a major force behind MySpace Dark Horse Presents, which ended in 2010. Now that you’ve had some time to reflect, what do you take away from that experience?
SH: Man, nothing but great memories. A new Concrete story. Introducing Achewood to my bemused co-workers. Splashing Los Bros Hernandez all over the MySpace home page. Kicking off Sugarshock! by Joss Whedon and Fabio Moon. Working with the Dark Horse crew on a weekly basis. Seeing a lot of new talent getting their first big shot. And one very fateful vegan brunch in New York.
I had a blast. It was a privilege to play a small role in the history of Dark Horse Presents, which meant so much to me as an evolving comic book fan.
TFAW.com: Congratulations on Sacrifice #1 selling out before it even went on sale! You don’t have any traditional distribution, so how did things like variant covers and partnerships help contribute to the sell out?
SH: When you are self-publishing and self-distributing, you have to take advantage of every opportunity, and turn weaknesses to strengths whenever possible. Any one neglected path could be the difference between success and failure. That’s all variant covers are, an opportunity to generate more excitement from readers and retailers. As long as your covers are cool and your messaging is straightforward (IE you don’t try to make them into something they’re not), it can be a fun and effective tool in the direct market.
And of course, it helps to have a baller partner like TFAW.com in your corner. Not to shine your shoes in your own living room, but it’s a huge deal to have one of the biggest online retailers get behind a brand-new, self-published, creator-owned comic like Sacrifice. It makes all the difference in the world.
TFAW.com: What’s next for you and comics?
SH: I’ve got to produce an issue of Sacrifice every month for another five months! Isn’t that enough? WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT FROM ME ELISABETH.
Ha! Our thanks to Sam for answering all of our questions–and then some! The Obsidian Variant Edition of Sacrifice #1 is limited to just 250 copies and is available exclusively here at TFAW.com, but copies are selling out fast. Get yours today!
ORDER SACRIFICE #1: THE OBSIDIAN VARIANT COVER EDITION
BROWSE COMICS BY SAM HUMPHRIES
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